Page 4172 - Week 13 - Tuesday, 15 November 2005

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cold-blooded, systematic drug trafficking and a desperate and stupid mistake, where there is no forgiveness, then a hardline policy is in serious danger of defeating its own purposes.

But more important than these pragmatic considerations are the questions of principle, the two most important being that of the respect that we should have for the sovereignty of another friendly nation and that of the moral arguments either for or against capital punishment. Indeed, if we broaden our perspective to take account of the numerous other moral and political issues involved in combating the general threat of terrorism, it is clear that such questions of principle are more acute and more pressing now than perhaps at any other time any of us who are old enough can remember.

Realistically, there is very little that we as individuals, or even as an Assembly, can do other than to state our case as plainly and as persuasively as possible to indicate where we stand and why. I am not a moral relativist and believe, among other things, that the death penalty is intrinsically wrong and that no civilised society should resort to torture. I am well aware that other people, including many Australians, do not share this belief and will not be moved by argument, evidence or simple humanity.

That does not mean that we cannot, or should not, articulate our values and take whatever practical steps we can to put them in place. To this end, I am proposing to resuscitate the ACT Legislative Assembly Amnesty International group, and have taken steps to commence it. In its earlier incarnation it was a tripartite initiative open to all Assembly members and Assembly staff and it was headed in my time by my former employer Gary Humphries, now Senator Humphries.

We will naturally work closely with our counterparts in the federal parliament on a range of issues, including some that I have raised in this place and elsewhere in the past, such as legal and residential rights for women who have been forced into sexual slavery. Of necessity, our efforts must be modest but will, I trust, go beyond the purely symbolic. I will shortly circulate details of the proposed group to all members and staff and look forward to working with as many of you as possible.

Industrial relations

MS PORTER (Ginninderra) (6.08): Tonight during the adjournment debate I wish to issue a warning to those opposite and to their federal colleagues up on the hill. This morning I was fortunate, along with many others, to attend the Canberra contribution to a national political protest, the largest of its kind this country has ever seen. I am sorry that some of those opposite missed the bus.

We saw the young and the old, people from the union movement, from the Australian Labor Party and from the Australian working community, unite in opposition to the Howard government’s extreme IR agenda, an agenda which is an assault not only on working Australians but also on the way of life of our entire community. It is an assault on the fabric of our society which, as we have seen by now from the detail of the industrial relations changes, will abolish the five-day working week, demolish the concept of time off on weekends, abolish the right to public holidays, decimate the concept of four weeks annual leave and normal working hours, and abolish penalty rates.

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